Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s era of dominance came to an end earlier this month when Luka Modric was awarded the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
The Croatian midfielder, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid and led his national team to the World Cup final, became the first player other than Ronaldo or Messi to win the award in more than a decade.
Kaka was the previous footballer not named Ronaldo or Messi to win the Ballon d’Or, back in 2007. But Modric, as expected, beat the two legends to the prestigious individual accolade this time around.
“Maybe in the past there are some players who could have won the Ballon d’Or like Xavi, Andres Iniesta or [Wesley] Sneijder but people finally now are looking at someone else,” the 33-year-old told BBC Sport.
“This award is for all the players who probably deserved to win it and didn’t. It was a really special year for me.”
However, Ronaldo and Messi were conspicuous by their absence.
Modric has attended plenty of award ceremonies in the past and watched Ronaldo and Messi pick up trophy after trophy, applauding them in the process.
Given the fact that Modric is his former teammate – and a player who helped him score a lot of goals at the Bernabeu – Ronaldo’s absence felt particularly harsh.
However, Modric has now spoken out about Ronaldo and Messi’s Ballon d’Or snub – and it’s safe to say he’s not happy.
“I cannot say why someone did not attend – that’s their choice,” Modric told Sportske Novosti, per Eurosport. “That is logical, is it not?
“It turns out these choices and trophies only have value when they get them.
“It is not fair to their playing colleagues, or to the voters who have nominated them for the past 10 years – nor for football or supporters.
“But I repeat, everyone behaves the way they think they need to.”
Ouch. Fair play for telling it like it is, though, Luka.
Modric also made the point that the Ballon d’Or recognises the player who enjoyed the best calendar year in football – and not necessarily the most talented footballer.
“Here we are talking about seasonal performance, and it probably means that all the coaches, players, football legends and journalists have voted the same,” he added.
“Or are they all mistaken at the same time?
“If we vote on the quality of the player, then the only thing left is to distribute all the trophies for Messi and Ronaldo as long as they are actively plating and to abandon any vote.”
He’s made an excellent point, to be fair.
While Ronaldo and Messi are obviously better players than Modric – and that’s no disrespect to the Croatia international, who is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders of his generation – if the Ballon d’Or is awarded to the player who has had the best year then the latter was the worthy winner this year.